910.763.3601

Specialty / PRK

For patients that want to eliminate glasses or contacts but have been told they have thin corneas, certain types of corneal diseases, or specific lifestyle requirements, PRK is a vision correction procedure that can drastically improve your vision and is a popular alternative to LASIK!

Significantly improve your vision with PRK.

For more than 20 years, we have been focused on helping people across eastern North Carolina improve their vision and enhance their quality of life through vision correction procedures. To date, hundreds of patients can now see 20/20 or better and no longer rely on glasses or contacts to see clearly, thanks to PRK. Contact Wilmington Eye today to find out if PRK is the right vision correction procedure for you.

 

What is PRK eye surgery and how can it help me?

PRK stands for photorefractive keratectomy. It’s a vision correction procedure that has many similarities to LASIK vision correction. Like LASIK, PRK greatly improves your vision by reshaping your cornea to focus light more directly onto the retina, which leads to clear vision. The way the PRK procedure accesses your cornea is what differentiates the two. PRK can be an effective solution for people who want to reduce or eliminate their dependence on glasses and contacts.

Like LASIK, PRK is an elective vision correction procedure, which means that it is not medically necessary and therefore, rarely covered by insurance. PRK can be used to treat myopia (nearsightedness: those who can see up close), hyperopia (farsightedness: those who can see far away), and astigmatism. Like other types of refractive surgery, the goal of PRK is to improve your vision and help you achieve reduced or total independence from glasses and contact lenses.

PRK is the first generation of laser vision correction and was first performed in 1987. In 1995, PRK was approved by the FDA, predating LASIK by a single year.

 

Are you a PRK candidate?

Call us at 910-763-3601; We’ll answer all of your questions and schedule a consultation with one of our expert surgeons.

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The Science of Vision

When we look at an object, a complex chain of events happens. First, light enters the eye through your cornea, where it is bent (or refracted). It then passes through the pupil and into the lens where it is bent (refracted) again. Finally, the light comes to a point and focuses on the retina, allowing you to see. Nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism occur when there’s a problem accurately bending or refracting incoming light; this is where the term refractive error comes from. These refractive errors are the most common causes of vision impairment.

 

NORMAL VISION

With the absence of a refractive error, light rays are accurately and clearly focused directly on the retina. This allows people without refractive error to see all objects clearly.

MYOPIA (NEARSIGHTEDNESS)

Nearsightedness (myopia) occurs when the cornea is too steep or the eyeball is too long, which causes light rays to focus in front of the retina. Images of distant objects are blurred, but close objects appear clear.

HYPEROPIA (FARSIGHTEDNESS)

Farsightedness (hyperopia) results when the cornea is too flat or the eyeball is too short, which causes the light rays to focus directly behind the retina. Near objects appear blurry to those with hyperopia. Some farsighted people cannot focus on distant or near objects.

ASTIGMATISM

Astigmatism occurs when the curvature of the cornea is uneven and is shaped more like a football than a round baseball. This irregularity creates multiple focal points in the eye and makes it difficult to clearly focus on near or distant objects.

NORMAL VISION

With the absence of a refractive error, light rays are accurately and clearly focused directly on the retina. This allows people without refractive error to see all objects clearly.

 

MYOPIA (NEARSIGHTEDNESS)

Nearsightedness (myopia) occurs when the cornea is too steep or the eyeball is too long, which causes light rays to focus in front of the retina. Images of distant objects are blurred, but close objects appear clear.

 

HYPEROPIA (FARSIGHTEDNESS)

Farsightedness (hyperopia) results when the cornea is too flat or the eyeball is too short, which causes the light rays to focus directly behind the retina. Near objects appear blurry to those with hyperopia. Some farsighted people cannot focus on distant or near objects.

 

ASTIGMATISM

Astigmatism occurs when the curvature of the cornea is uneven and is shaped more like a football than a round baseball. This irregularity creates multiple focal points in the eye and makes it difficult to clearly focus on near or distant objects.

 
 

PRK can correct these various refractive errors by permanently reshaping the corneal surface so that refracted light focuses more directly on the retina. This can help to reduce and oftentimes eliminate the need for corrective lenses.

 

Schedule A Consultation Today

 

Is PRK Right For Me?

Much like other vision correction procedures, a comprehensive evaluation is needed in order to identify if PRK is the best solution for you. While PRK is generally an ideal solution for people who have dry eye conditions or thin corneas, several other factors will be carefully considered to determine your true PRK candidacy. Some of these factors include age, prescription strength, ocular history, and corneal structure.
 

Here are some additional questions that can generally help you determine your potential candidacy.

  • Are you at least 18 years or older?
  • Are you generally in good health?
  • Do you have a stable prescription for at least a full year?

To determine if PRK is the best vision correction procedure for you, we require all patients to come in for a comprehensive consultation. During this consultation (which can last up to 2 to hours), we will conduct a dilated eye exam and perform several diagnostic tests to evaluate the health of your eyes, document your refractive error, as well as map your unique eye characteristics. You will then meet with one of our experienced vision correction surgeons to discuss your vision goals and develop a personalized vision correction treatment plan specific to you.

If PRK is deemed unsuitable for a patient, we also offer additional refractive solutions to help you improve your vision:

LASIK
Like PRK, LASIK greatly improves your vision by reshaping your cornea using a laser. However, if you are not a candidate for PRK, it is generally unlikely that you’ll be a candidate for LASIK. Learn more about LASIK.

 
ICL (implantable Collamer Lens)
Best suited for patients with moderate to severe nearsightedness, implantable collamer lenses (ICL) permanently correct your vision. Learn more about ICL.

 
Refractive Lens Exchange
If you’re a candidate for refractive surgery but have been diagnosed with presbyopia, a common age-related vision disorder, a Refractive Lens Exchange may be the best vision procedure for you. Learn more about Refractive Lens Exchange.

 
No matter what your vision is today, our surgeons can meet with you to discuss the best vision correction procedures for you and help eliminate your need for glasses or contacts.
 

Schedule A Consultation Today

 
 

The PRK Procedure

PRK is often referred to as “LASIK without the flap”. Similar to the LASIK procedure, PRK uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. However, the corneal treatment during the procedure is what differentiates the two.

PRK is performed in the following two steps:

  1. The protective layer that covers your cornea (called the epithelial layer) is removed to expose your cornea.
  2. After your cornea has been exposed, the PRK process then involves the reshaping of your cornea. Using an excimer laser (the same laser used in LASIK), we reshape the curvature of the cornea, correcting your refractive error. Your cornea’s new shape will now allow light to be focused more directly onto the retina, significantly improving your vision. Once this is complete, a bandage-like contact lens will be placed on your eye. The lens protects your eye while a new epithelial layer grows back.

 
This video provides an in-depth look at the entire PRK procedure.

 

PRK is a suitable vision correction choice for patients who have been told they are not candidates for LASIK due to dry eye conditions, thin corneas, or similar eye conditions.

Our team of board-certified, highly trained ophthalmic surgeons include Dr. Kathleen C. Leone, Dr. Matej Polomsky, Dr. Christopher Covington, and Dr. Travis Jenkins. Collectively, we have helped countless patients achieve increased or total independence from glasses or contacts with PRK.
 

What To Expect Before, During and After PRK Surgery

Once a comprehensive consultation has been completed and one of our ophthalmic surgeons has determined that PRK is the best vision correction procedure for you, it’s time to prepare for surgery day!
 

Before PRK Surgery

Approximately 1 week leading up to your surgery, we ask that you refrain from using contact lenses and switch to glasses full-time. This is very important as contact lenses distort the natural shape of your cornea and may lead to a less-than-optimal surgical outcome. Another very important part of your pre-operative care is continuing any routine care, such as using your prescription eye drops for dry eye. Your surgeon will discuss any additional pre-operative care with you during your initial consultation.

The morning of your surgery, it is best to refrain from wearing lotion, sunscreen, or makeup as these things can also interfere with surgery. Please arrange for travel to and from the surgery facility as you will not be allowed to drive home following the procedure.

 

During PRK Surgery

During surgery, your surgeon will apply numbing eye drops to alleviate any pain or discomfort you may feel during the procedure. Your surgeon will then apply a lid speculum to keep your eyelids open during the procedure.

The protective layer that covers the surface of your cornea (called the epithelial layer) will be removed, exposing your cornea. Once the cornea is exposed, the surgeon will then position you under a laser. This laser (called an excimer laser) is used to change the shape of your cornea based on the exact measurements of each eye.

Your surgeon will then place a bandage-like contact lens over your cornea while it heals. The surface layer that was removed typically heals between 3-7 days.

The entire procedure is completed in less than 20 minutes!

 

After PRK Surgery

If you have a friend or loved one who has had LASIK, you can expect your post-operative experience to be very different.

Immediately following your PRK procedure, you’ll be given a pair of goggles to help protect your vulnerable cornea during this early postoperative stage. Driving is not permitted after surgery, so you will need to make arrangements for a loved one to drive you to and from your PRK procedure. Once at home, you will be required to keep your eyes closed for 4 hours.

Unlike LASIK, which has an almost-immediate effect, patients who undergo PRK will see gradual improvements in their vision over the course of several weeks. The bandage-like contact lens that was placed after surgery will need to be worn for approximately 5 to 7 days following your procedure. During the first few days following PRK, you may experience blurry vision or haziness. This is perfectly normal as the eyes work to heal themselves. Your surgeon will also prescribe topical antibiotics as well as anti-inflammatory medication to reduce post-operative discomfort, minimize swelling, and expedite healing. Full recovery and stabilized eyesight will take several weeks, so be patient. While your vision is normalizing, your surgeon may instruct you to avoid driving for a brief period.

You will be seen for your first post-operative exam within 24 hours following your procedure. During this exam, your surgeon will ensure that your protective contact lens bandage is still in its proper place and that your cornea is healing accordingly. Approximately one week after PRK, your second post-operative exam will be to remove the bandage-like contact lens.

At Wilmington Eye, post-operative care for an entire year following your surgery is included in the cost of PRK eye surgery. In a small percentage of patients, a touch up procedure is needed (called an enhancement). This is also included in the cost of PRK during your first year following surgery.

As with any surgery, it’s extremely important to follow all post-operative instructions from your surgeon to ensure optimum results and minimize complications.

Essential to the long-term care of your vision is continued routine eye care. If you don’t have a regular optometrist, we can recommend one of our board-certified, highly trained optometrists to help you manage and maintain your new vision.

 

The True Cost of PRK

Our goal is to help you achieve 20/20 or better and reduce your dependence on corrective lenses. To many, saying goodbye to glasses or contacts is a lifelong desire and we want to help you achieve this. During your comprehensive PRK evaluation, we will discuss procedure costs and affordable financing options available through our financial partner, CareCredit. Our comprehensive cost for PRK eye surgery includes:
 

  • All pre-operative measurements and exams
  • A personalized and flexible surgical plan
  • All post-operative checkups
  • As-needed enhancement during the first year

There are no hidden fees or variations in pricing based on your refractive errors.
 
In addition to affordable financing options, we also accept funds from FSA and HSA accounts. Please also ask us about discounts for teachers, military personal, and first responders! If you would like to request a consultation to discuss PRK vision correction and pricing with a vision correction specialist, you can do so today.
 

The Associated Risks of PRK

Like any surgery, there are associated risks of undergoing PRK surgery. Some known associated risks include:

  • Infection
  • Edema (Swelling)
  • Corneal Warpage Syndrome (commonly known as Ectasia)
  • Loss of vision
  • Corneal scarring
  • Irregular astigmatism
  • Dry Eye Syndrome
  • Need for reading glasses in the future
  • Need for enhancements in the future
  • Glare or halos
  • Light sensitivity

 
While many of these side effects are temporary, there have been rare instances of reported long-term problems. Your PRK surgeon will be able to explain any risks or side effects during your initial consultation. Following PRK surgery, it’s extremely important to follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions to minimize the risk of complication.
 

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Surgical Specialties